Special Guardianship Solicitors - MLP Law

Temporary legal rights over a child in care

Special Guardianship Orders are an important legal tool to protect children in care, during long-term fostering or in other situations where the child’s parents cannot adequately meet their responsibilities to their dependant.

They give a named individual considerable legal rights over the child, even if the parents disagree with a particular course of action. However, there are only certain circumstances under which Special Guardianship will normally be granted.

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Rights under a Special Guardianship Order

Special Guardianship confers a long list of legal rights. Some are listed below.

  • Parental responsibility over day-to-day decisions
  • Permission to take the child out of the UK for up to three months
  • Potential to change the child’s surname

If you would like to know more, please contact MLP’s family lawyers and we can discuss the full list with you.

Importantly, Special Guardianship does not mean the child loses any link with their birth parents. In fact it can be a way for them to stay connected during foster care.

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When Special Guardianship may be granted

A Special Guardianship Order is most likely to be granted when a child is taken into care, including long-term foster care. The child may need to live with you for some time before you can apply, typically 1-3 years depending on the circumstances.

The child’s own parents are not eligible to obtain a Special Guardianship Order. However, other relatives may apply if the child has lived with them for one year or more. This can include grandparents who act as caregivers, as well as other relatives like aunts and uncles.

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Frequently asked Special Guardianship questions

Is a Special Guardianship Order permanent?

No. A Special Guardianship Order or SGO can be varied or discharged by the court. There are certain restrictions on this though, so you may need to show a significant change in circumstances in order to have an SGO revoked.

Can more than one person get an SGO?

Yes. A child can be subject to multiple Special Guardianship Orders at the same time. It’s worth noting that although an SGO allows you to overrule the child’s parents, it does not allow you to overrule other Special Guardians, so you must both (or all) agree on any significant decisions.

Do I qualify for a Special Guardianship Order?

There is a long list of different criteria to obtain a Special Guardianship Order. This can include if the child is in care, if you are a blood relative, and if the child has lived with you. MLP’s Special Guardianship Solicitors can help you make sure you qualify.

What else may be considered when applying for an SGO?

Your home circumstances may be taken into account when applying for an SGO. You must be able to provide a suitable home for the child. The court or local authority may also consider whether they have siblings, medical conditions or other specific needs.

Is there financial support for Special Guardians?

Foster carers are likely to already receive financial support for their service. You may also be able to apply to your local authority for a Special Guardianship Allowance, which can cover some of the additional costs of caring for a child as a temporary but long-term arrangement.

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